Shedding a New Light: A Service for Lighting the Shiva Candle

Like many of our traditional Jewish mourning practices, lighting the Shiva candle serves as a reminder that the passing of our loved ones has caused a significant rupture in the fabric of our lives and that, despite their passing, we will always feel their presence in our lives. As the light from the Shiva candle fills the corner of the darkened room in which we place it, our loved one’s spirit fills our hearts and homes during the days of Shiva and we understand we are not alone.
Our spirits do not rush from this world. We linger for a while in the thoughts and feelings of those we leave behind. We fill their memories and guide their hearts. Through the precious gifts of memory and imagination, we are able to transcend the boundaries of time and space.
Shiva is a time to share stories and cement memories of those we loved. It is their spirit that gathers us, their friends and family, neighbors and colleagues, together. The flicking flame of the Shiva candle, reminds us that as we gather and celebrate the life of those who have left this world, they are still very much present.
The blessings in this short service come from the daily morning worship and remind us of the life-restoring blessings of light. May the lingering glow of our loved one’s soul guide us now as we walk through the valley darkened by death so that soon we may be able to say once again with the Psalmist of old:
כִּי עִמְּךָ מְקוֹר חַיִּים, בְּאוֹרְךָ נִרְאֶה אוֹר
Ki im’kha m’kor hayyim, b’or’kha nireh or
With you, Dear God, is the fountain of life,
In Your light, do we see light.
Meditation: Coming Home from the Funeral
So you’re here again
I knew we couldn’t leave you behind
Not with everyone gathering here
And talking about you
And all the good times we had.
Please excuse their laughter
And hunger
And thirst.
It’s their gift to you
As they celebrate your life.
But now, we’re alone
(I can’t believe I’ve found a quiet corner)
Just to light a light
To keep your spirit warm
Within this room, this home
And within my heart.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, יוֹצֵר אוֹר
וּבוֹרֵא חֹֽשֶךְ, עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא אֶת הַכֹּל
Barukh atah Adonai, eloheinu melekh ha-olam, yotzeir or u’vorei hoshekh,
oseh shalom u’vorei et ha-kol.
We bless and praise You, our Eternal God, ruler of time and space, because You form light and create darkness; You establish peace and create all things.
Light the candle
אוֹר חָדָשׁ עַל צִיּוֹן תָּאִיר וְנִזְכֶּה כֻלָּֽנוּ מְהֵרָה לְאוֹרוֹ
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ יוֹצֵר הַמְּאוֹרוֹת
Or hadash al tziyon ta’ir, v’nizkeh khulanu m’heirah l’oro.
Barukh atah Adonai, yotzeir ha-m’orot.
May a new light shine over Zion and soon may we all be worthy to bask in its glow. Be blessed and praised, Eternal One, creator of all the lights. Amen!
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